AHL approves relocating Flames' affiliate from Stockton to Calgary

Steam rises from buildings near the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

The American Hockey League's board of governors approved the relocation of the Stockton Heat, the Calgary Flames' affiliate, on Monday, allowing it to move its home base permanently from California to Calgary for the 2022-23 season.

Once completed, the relocation figures to be a boon for the Flames' development system, as having a minor-league affiliate stationed in the professional team's home city facilitates cohesion and collaboration between the two branches of the organization.

The Heat have been the Flames' affiliate since their inception in 2015-16, when the club relocated to Stockton, Calif., from New York, where they had been known as the Adirondack Flames. In California, the Heat joined four other relocated AHL teams that formed the basis of a Pacific Division for the league.

The possibility of relocation isn't new, as the Heat's initial five-year lease with the city to use Stockton Arena expired after 2020. The team was given a one-year extension, but the following season was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the eventual creation of a temporary Canadian Division to navigate border crossing restrictions.

During that COVID-altered season, the Heat played in Calgary and shared the Scotiabank Saddledome with the Flames, competing against other Canadian-based AHL teams.

While the Heat and Flames have operated under the same roof before, uprooting a team and its staff comes with uncertainty, too, especially when it comes to the logistics of permanently sharing the Saddledome — and how AHL divisions will function.

The AHL said details of the transfer were still in progress, as were plans related to division alignment for the upcoming season.

“Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation have appreciated the partnership with the City of Stockton since our arrival in 2015,” Brad Pascall, the Heat general manager, said in a statement. “We especially would like to say thank you to the Heat fans who loyally supported the team and continue to throughout the 2022 AHL Playoffs.”

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